Unwanted in Toulouse then Montpellier, relaunched in Pro D2 then in Brive, the scrum half Teddy Iribaren is finally recognized at its fair value in Racing 92, for which he will still hold Sunday in the European Cup against Munster.
Saturday against Clermont, the captain of the day displayed his malice and his vista, two ingredients which, mixed with a good dose of confidence, can wreak havoc. A melee which turns, its opposite Greig Laidlaw which is a little far and it is the sanction: departure small side, kick over which deceives Damian Penaud, test.
"My head is a bit on the handlebars, I do it instinctively," said the Toulousain with Basque origins, aged 29. Instinct? This is good, the partner at the hinge, a certain Finn Russell, is not lacking, he who can make the best shots in a good day or pass completely through.
"When they are at 100% of their potential, risk-taking and instinct benefit the team," said captain Henry Chavancy. They feel blows and usually they are paid things. "
Result: Ciel en Blanc are 5 wins in a row and Iribaren is rewarded with a third consecutive start on Sunday. Even if his coach Laurent Travers denies it, the ex-Briviste seems to have taken precedence over Maxime Machenaud, N.1 at the post since his arrival at the club in 2012 but whose more secure game sticks less to that of the Scottish opener.
- When Jacky gets involved -
Machenaud had also been scratched by President Jacky Lorenzetti after the dam lost to La Rochelle in late May. "I see that the Iribaren-Russell pair at the start of the season was better than the Machenaud-Russell pair in the spring," joked the boss. What to put frying on the line between the two competitors? "No, they are big boys", objects Travers who places them on an equal footing and sees them as "very complementary": in Bordeaux management, in Toulouse creation.
At the start of the season, Iribaren took advantage of the absence of Machenaud, who left for Japan for the World Cup, to settle a little more. Travers even entrusted him with the captaincy, with mixed results at first. "It put additional pressure on him, maybe it made him thwart", explains the manager who considers himself "partly responsible" for having put his player "in difficulty". A pressure that Iribaren "took the time to absorb and now it is much better."
- Self flagellation -
Iribaren always sees the glass half empty. Author of a big match on the lawn of Munster (21-21), and in particular of an exquisite pass on the closed side which sends Teddy Thomas to the test, the striker blames himself for a missed penalty. "He always has a tendency to flog himself," regrets Travers. "He has to watch what he does well, too. He has more perspective now."
With hindsight, the former licensee of the Stade Toulousain can only have it if he turns around on his professional career, started in Tarbes in Pro D2 (2011-2014) before a first experience in Top 14 which goes wrong in Montpellier: Fabien Galthié jumps in the middle of exercise and his replacement Jake White does not want it.
In Brive (2015-2017), he finally proved himself in the first division and caught the eye of the two Laurent, Labit and Travers, yet used to recruiting more flashy backs (Sexton, Carter ...). "He was someone we had been following for a while and who had the possibility of staying in Brive or putting himself in a little more danger ..."
Iribaren has chosen and "asserts himself more and more as a boss", savored Chavancy. "He is first and foremost a leader on the field, who is beginning to have experience in high-level matches," said the center.
Insufficient experience, however, to be on the first list of 42 players from new coach Fabien Galthié, in a position where the competition is tough. "I'm a little bit old, I think I missed my chance a little bit," he said before the verdict. Its objective is different: "a title at the end of the year". With such a revenge, Racing is armed.
© 2020 AFP